Open Country : BBC Radio 4 FM : August 11, 2016 03:00PM-03:27PM BST
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Helen Mark meets the UK's largest puppet, Man Engine, in Cornwall's mining landscape.
🔗 My birthday was on some legendary name was torn up with President Ford
🔗 and let me turn down the post and it was sent away now
🔗 and I hid behind the settee my cast away the cartoonist Michael he'll
🔗 be choosing his Desert Island Discs tomorrow morning.
🔗 News It's three o'clock A Fierce fighting has resumed on the outskirts of the
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🔗 Now on open country Helen Marcus in Cornwall to celebrate time yes since the mining
🔗 landscape there was declared a world heritage site.
🔗 I mean the timing of the little card in Cornwall
🔗 and I'm standing in a crowd.
🔗 They are like fifty or sixty people behind me
🔗 and we are awaiting the unfailing the mine
🔗 and the from the in the
🔗 cabin on the info
🔗 and in the depths of the crowd with its Deborah boat
🔗 and Geoffrey you are the Cornish my.
🔗 Meaning World Heritage site coordinator waiting for something very special to
🔗 The ten years since we were declared by UNESCO as one of the great wonders of the
🔗 and our mining landscape because of what they represent to the whole of humanity
🔗 should get that special recognition.
🔗 So we put a challenge for the doubt to the creative community of coma what seven
🔗 and up we got but loads of ideas but the best idea possible was the idea
🔗 that we'll come forward with some Gold tree to create a giant pulpit to look like a
🔗 Cornish miner and to feel like the crowd.
🔗 The way it was constructed has been completely inspired by the equipment you would
🔗 see in a minute his shoulders look like the wheels at the health top of the head
🔗 And he's neck is shaped like the beam from one of our great inventions the cold the
🔗 high pressure steam the mention there is it going on the reason we're looking at
🔗 you. So is that techniques the pine here
🔗 and equipment invented to get precious metal tin cups out of the ground so
🔗 that needed really inventiveness and ingenuity things
🔗 and so the idea of creating the biggest ever put it in coal uses all those skills
🔗 and we still have some of the world's greatest mining engineers trained here in
🔗 We've got Campbell's goal among its own hands
🔗 on mom first time
🔗 We want to be on more dangerous jobs
🔗 and more
🔗 man in his wisdom
🔗 and genius way all helping men get in and out of the mines.
🔗 And it was here in this car that this man and the first.
🔗 from the mechanics of the machine the light flashing from within the
🔗 mechanical structure the any moment now beginning to
🔗 rise there it goes from its crotch position
🔗 but still borrowed from the
🔗 folding itself.
🔗 This giant
🔗 and you can see the face now made out of metal parts
🔗 and the eyes which I'm taller
🔗 and all of the shrug has been taken off
🔗 and we see it from space tires and pistons
🔗 and wheels. It's painted yellow and black
🔗 and you can definitely see at the top end here is a minor helmet with the light on
🔗 the FROM it's like shape in front of a tiring of the prophets towering above the
🔗 two story buildings on either side of the main street on the side to really feel it.
🔗 So it's down into you right into your very soul
🔗 in this ceremony that was a mine captain
🔗 and Bryony you were given so she think about what just happened here in the square
🔗 to make you think differently about the landscape
🔗 that you live in make me so proud of her.
🔗 Escape from the crowd for a few moments into a shop on the main street here to meet
🔗 Louis skipper.
🔗 You know what comes across really strongly as soon as you come into the tight end
🔗 of the of the crisis or here.
🔗 How strong the personal connection people have with mining. And always you are.
🔗 I'm the sixteenth generation of tennis
🔗 that dates back to fifteenth the same where they used to dam the rivers
🔗 and the rivers for the different memos
🔗 that were in it then they became miners in the actual to mines
🔗 and then some of them became French
🔗 or as as well which is where they actually invest into the mines and the workers.
🔗 when you were written about away from the tone you walking out across the border other
🔗 places. Do you see the signs of the lives that they lead. Still in the landscape.
🔗 Yes we have a claim alter on the thirteenth of January in fourteen fifteen I am one
🔗 of my grandfathers was a witness when King Henry the six guys from LA
🔗 and a painter there and you can still go to where the river is by the.
🔗 Well and actually see where it recalls all over the place where they actually that.
🔗 Really carved up the landscape didn't leave the extraction of tin.
🔗 We look at it known.
🔗 It's so beautiful but it masks that horrendous their working life that they had.
🔗 And what about what's happening with this man engine How do you feel it really is
🔗 really good
🔗 that they are remembering what actually made Cosmo to start off with because of the
🔗 mining collapse and a lot of people had to leave and go into other industries
🔗 and go away
🔗 but is now a nice calm was remembered it's not just like a seaside place
🔗 and there's like even people
🔗 that come now to my shop have been talking about their grandfathers and that
🔗 and how they were engineers and how they went to other countries
🔗 and gave their skills to other places
🔗 but it's still a lot of people down here to find ways of making things work.
🔗 Everybody always pulls together.
🔗 The village of minions is set right in the top of Bodmin Moor and. Come here.
🔗 Following the pilgrimage of the man engineer to make his way through the post
🔗 mining landscape of Cornwall.
🔗 The minions is Chinese a cluster of houses a pub hotel and to shop.
🔗 But it has absolutely jam packed with people.
🔗 I'm looking down the road there are cars parked on every side as far as the eye can
🔗 see but I've come to spend a little bit of time with yourself.
🔗 There is what some because you are so involved in the community life of this place.
🔗 If we woke up this track.
🔗 We will come up to the engine house Houseman's engine has which is an interpretive
🔗 center to tell people something about the mining history of the area.
🔗 Of famous landmarks is the Cheesewring which is a rock formation
🔗 that is on top of stone cell which is also prehistoric settlement. So.
🔗 Jerry's just crammed with history afternoon till the eight hundred
🔗 S. when Copper was discovered on Karajan ho
🔗 and he became a boom time the remark hers of it's still like the engine house.
🔗 It set in profile against the sky.
🔗 Yeah it would almost be like three or four storeys high it's a tall.
🔗 Does it fit on top of a mine. There is in fact a mine shaft behind that low wall.
🔗 And the engine would have been inside the building with one of those big bangs
🔗 So this would have been a very noisy landing not the crunch of shoes on the gravel
🔗 path or the barking dogs
🔗 but a different noise move a load ugly noise moving around
🔗 and smoking chimneys
🔗 and spoil heaps everywhere is almost like a moon landscape.
🔗 Within that ground there are the veins of copper tin.
🔗 Silver in some places in coal more and.
🔗 The men going underground to win those minerals from the same size are what has
🔗 shaped this landscape into hum some bum
🔗 and deposited great piles of stone in places like honeycomb underneath.
🔗 If it was the right sort of day you'd be able to look at Karajan Hill
🔗 and say one chimney after another.
🔗 All in the line in the landscape and
🔗 that show she wears of the veins to loads of of minerals from underground because
🔗 they followed the loads of people who lived here when the came out of the mines
🔗 and the families
🔗 that they had after the bottom fell out of the Cornish copper mining all the
🔗 miners moved away
🔗 and the houses became derelict so many of them were not time there were three
🔗 thousand men employed on the.
🔗 Tower Dunhill and if they couldn't find somewhere to sleep.
🔗 They would dig into the side of the hill
🔗 and put a roof over where I mean they they walked miles to the top of the shaft
🔗 say climbed down the shaft.
🔗 Then they spent hours underground in really horrid conditions
🔗 and then they had to time all the way back up.
🔗 It made the Cornish miner a very strong bold race.
🔗 Stand up for themselves and continue to do so.
🔗 No more than the way start
🔗 from a small way of paying the price of stones.
🔗 Hart who is of hosiery referred to as the barge of Cornwall which is rather like no
🔗 I've already heard is a big part of what's happening as part of the celebration.
🔗 I heard the solo voice being sung when the man engine was rising in the scars.
🔗 So what about what's happening here. Mick and how are you involved in it.
🔗 What we're doing is reflecting in songs.
🔗 Some of the history of color more we start with the extraordinary landscape the
🔗 natural monuments out on the Mall and the ways
🔗 that the inhabitants of thousands of years have shaped those stones to their
🔗 purposes and even this small open field
🔗 that we are standing on it's full of hundred X. and that Is extraordinary.
🔗 I mean it looks like children have been playing on the beach
🔗 and have been making their sand castles and the tide has come in
🔗 and washed it all over but it's not it's the old signs of the medieval mining
🔗 when the tin and copper were worked by hand on the surface
🔗 and then there's the great technicians of the industrial revolution took hold.
🔗 They started to go down
🔗 and they went down literally thousands of feet to see the of
🔗 the the the face of the earth
🔗 was the everywhere you go in called Move to see the ghosts of the industrial
🔗 heritage in the mine buildings which lay waste on the Mall the beautiful postcard
🔗 image that you have of Cornwall of of the to mind often set against
🔗 and as you see it wasn't like that at all.
🔗 It was grim and it was dark but there was an extraordinary and Devore and energy
🔗 and creativity in the people until the great global slump
🔗 and by the fives and the communities left Cornwall
🔗 and went off to the mines in South Africa is on a trail near South America South
🔗 America is a very good example. So Richard Trevethick who is our Great.
🔗 Hornish engineer invented the first mobile steam engine before Stephenson I might
🔗 tell you he disappeared to South America and took his technology with him
🔗 and it left call Wall a wasteland in intellectual and social wasteland.
🔗 It is very poignant to think about
🔗 that at this time with refugees economic migrants the Cornish were our great
🔗 economic migrants as they set off on their journeys to new lands
🔗 and it's only now in the early twenty first century.
🔗 They were getting a royal sense of a Cornish red nacelles
🔗 and are managing is just the most extraordinary example of this Cornwall is feeling
🔗 that resurgence of creativity and energy again.
🔗 Out the Big East copper mine
🔗 that the world had ever seen arrogance a ringing accompaniment so every day.
🔗 When I go in just seeing about Cornish mining using all the names of the old
🔗 mines so I think Tang gonna mean.
🔗 Just uses for Whedon told by then
🔗 and built our rhythms up around all the places in Comal we're using mining
🔗 implements to create a backdrop of rhythmic sound to try and get
🔗 that sense of of illustrator
🔗 and your choir is called Our choir school can Orian Lowen can
🔗 or in is the plural of singer says singers and lo and is happy
🔗 or joy sing your habit with a coal mines they had a great tradition of choirs
🔗 and indeed it was at the same with Cornish mine absolutely.
🔗 And that links up tight with Methodism as well.
🔗 So they're going to the pub at night they will go to the chapel
🔗 and do this unless you see the children looking away from the crowd
🔗 and they're running across the fields in front of you know leaping between the one
🔗 I used to teach in the area and I would take the children across these malls
🔗 and roundabout and the.
🔗 It is their playground and they had names for everything
🔗 and they had stories about everything
🔗 and in their bones they know they may not know the details.
🔗 They may not know the exact history. They may not know the date.
🔗 But they know there was a past which was very very good here.
🔗 And then minions now and again.
🔗 Are supposedly the people here to witness the man machine who begins in a crowd
🔗 just position hugging the ground
🔗 that I live to be faced flipped open
🔗 and sometimes there is a character who is not fazed it makes you see you
🔗 there looking into the eyes of the history of my home in Cornwall
🔗 Kent manning the creator of this man angel is we'll call
🔗 him and we're sitting here on the on the damp turf.
🔗 Having experienced the transformation of this mechanical Colossus we are
🔗 on a ritualized pilgrimage. From the river tamer to give or in the ultimate Wes.
🔗 And we are deliberately invoking the spirit of our forbearers at each of the
🔗 significant Morningside from the way by transforming our largest mechanical puppet
🔗 ever constructed in Britain so that he stands up for high
🔗 and connects everybody back to the place to the landscape to the story of the law
🔗 to the landscape really can a puppet of this colossal mechanical puppet.
🔗 Can it reconnect people to the landscape.
🔗 I had a hunch it would and it would appear from the last two days
🔗 that that's exactly what we've been doing the number of people I've heard you may
🔗 have heard a few. They're coming up and shaking my errand
🔗 and often with tears in their eyes because people here have had all sorts of
🔗 challenges we are one of the very poorest regions in the whole Europe
🔗 and with the decline of the mining industry and the fishing and farming
🔗 and doing too good either people of lost a lot of pride and dignity through
🔗 that process
🔗 and sitting on the end of a kind of grand handout culture is not what we
🔗 particularly want to see as our future. So.
🔗 The fact
🔗 that we have this extraordinary morning history is an incredible gift for us to
🔗 help us envision a future by looking back at the past you have to know your past.
🔗 So you can understand your present and create your future always love this place
🔗 and it is it's that wonderful mixture of more
🔗 and you've got the hurlers which is the are nearly six standing stones
🔗 and you've got the bracken
🔗 and the gorse our company is called Golden tree which is an allusion to the fuzzy
🔗 Bush caissons out of fashion when the Course is a broom and so this.
🔗 This place is the landscapes virtually
🔗 that the whole project comes from coal is only North Point.
🔗 Nort Nort two percent of the surface of the land mass of the world
🔗 and yet of all the mineral species
🔗 that have ever been identified more than ninety percent can be found in this little
🔗 speck of rocky learned now
🔗 that geological diversities unparalleled it's shaped our world
🔗 and industry has shaped your food and our sport
🔗 and showed our music shaped our philosophy agone Tallis our language it shaped our
🔗 identity. And so through those extraordinary years of the nineteenth century
🔗 when Comal was the powerhouse.
🔗 It was the Silicon Valley the Japan that this high pressure steam was the thing
🔗 that drove the industrial revolution and it came from here. What is a man engine.
🔗 It was a device to.
🔗 Lift mourner's up and Dane
🔗 but only ten feet at a time so you jumped on the platform lifted up ten feet jumped
🔗 off the platform went back down.
🔗 You jumped on the next prop were lifted up ten feet you jumped off the platform
🔗 went back down. You jumped on the next part for me
🔗 when I was out of it in many people's minds the words man engine I was so shaded
🔗 with the vent. Because in nineteen nineteen having survived a song.
🔗 Thirty one men crashed to their death when the entire management collapsed
🔗 and fell away down the shaft.
🔗 We want to tell the truth about online in history that it was dark and dangerous
🔗 and gritty and we do not want to look at it through rosy tinted spectacles.
🔗 The stories of these real peoples
🔗 and their real lives there are so inspiring the characters we've been encountering
🔗 the ingenuity the innovation the Durance I just hope
🔗 that this can inspire the community to bring some of those qualities into our
🔗 that we are one creating So we've tried to make it resonate all the way through
🔗 with both historical and contemporary morning that huge How might you say
🔗 that shape is only from size crufty mine
🔗 and this is a heritage project that's about the future.
🔗 In terms of thing is when we come out of them are you.
🔗 The smells of fresh air
🔗 and the taste is how welcoming is underground for the types of the air even though
🔗 we haven't blasted here for tired. So it's still a different taste.
🔗 Coming up the grass they call it
🔗 and here we have have are growing on the hillsides and honeysuckle
🔗 and bubbly as have got the lovely scent and that you take the sunshine.
🔗 So what a lovely gift to get if you finish if just were to come out into
🔗 that our homes to small
🔗 and some to close down back in the ninety's chemical anointed been here on a
🔗 permanent basis. Here we teach students from all over the world.
🔗 We've got about two and a half kilometers of.
🔗 Here I mean the very good company of Mark catch Merrick we're ready to walk into
🔗 the darkness.
🔗 How long have you been a miner for the miners since one thousand nine hundred one.
🔗 My father worked for the monney for forty years we started very one hundred forty
🔗 eight. I'm finished in one thousand nine hundred. And across the mine.
🔗 I started monitoring one thousand nine hundred one and
🔗 that one thousand three hundred eighty. And the sixty to.
🔗 when you went down in the cage in your gears with Paul if you got any fear of a team.
🔗 Claustrophobic. Or if you got asthma or anything like that because some mines
🔗 that are tape the auction levels are very loud.
🔗 You're describing really quite difficult conditions a man said.
🔗 You really must take your hat or your helmet off to let people who work say.
🔗 When the conditions were atrocious children for nine years old boys in particular
🔗 working underground women didn't work in corners to mow into a copper mine someone
🔗 of a Jason nine years old didn't go down in a cage
🔗 or unless they had to climb ladders chains
🔗 and sometimes do an exhausting work pushing will Barros smashing up rocks drilling
🔗 holes by how brave men all the dust
🔗 and smoke some of these children actually fellows are climbing up these ladders
🔗 and that's where the man engine was such a tremendous invention to help being
🔗 plunged further
🔗 and further into absolute darkness with only our beams of light in this amazing the
🔗 ceilings which are glistening coming in.
🔗 See this lovely coloration in the wall sort of turquoise green we're in granite.
🔗 But there's fractures in the granite so you get water dripping fro and
🔗 that water's carrying copper. So when you call this a test mine Mark.
🔗 Yeah well they're training
🔗 but they're testing out new technologies in mining are they.
🔗 Because there's still constant demand.
🔗 From enrolls and mine has recently opened in out west.
🔗 Devon Bill Hemmer to mind their morning Thompson and contain
🔗 and what a good look at the whole of the British Isles.
🔗 There's only ten Fang and less Devon and Comal
🔗 and it is a strategic metal looking in this very matter what.
🔗 Modern black and these are some of the conditions of mine disaster working.
🔗 Very noisy
🔗 and dusty the average age of a miner in the early one thousand nine hundred twenty
🔗 two forty two years old thing to twenty seven years old.
🔗 Not because they was freezing and have lots more stuff.
🔗 The achievement
🔗 when you walked into the old mine working with some bunch of wood
🔗 and useful what was done physically by hand.
🔗 Some of the tight compliant places they worked in
🔗 that type of a normal day was breathtaking some places on the growing in Cornish
🔗 mind she could lose a London life time and then the shaft.